Saturday, November 07, 2009

LV Trophy Nice - Day 1: Team Origin wins first race against Synergy

[Source: Team Origin] First blood to Britain’s TEAMORIGIN in the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice regatta today. Skipper Ben Ainslie forced a penalty on the Russian team in the pre-start which proved to be the key moment of the race giving them an advantage that converted to a 59 second lead at the finish.

The British crew managed to position their assigned boat FRA-93 well in the final part of the pre-start phase, hussling the opposition team towards the line early and managing to catch the Russian boat, led by Karol Jablonski, in a compromised position to which they failed to respond correctly. Tactician Iain Percy explains: "With a minute to go to the start gun Ben caught the Russian boat a little downspeed in the final approach to the line and he managed to hook them to leeward. They were then lazy about keeping clear and the umpires flagged them correctly with a Red Flag penalty."

Tactician Iain Percy raises the flag and asks for a penalty. Nice, 7 November 2009. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Team Origin

Knowing that the Synergy team had to complete a penalty turn straight away after crossing the start line was hugely beneficial to the British team. The importance of the move and the early advantage allowed TEAMORIGIN to dictate the path it took around the track to get the best winds and extend to a lead of more than three minutes at one point.

With wind conditions light and blowing from the city out to the race course and Nice’s Baie des Anges being a stretch of water that few people have raced extensively on before, local knowledge is thin on the ground. Iain Percy explained that “...on a day like today it is important to be in front with the shifty breeze so that you can pick where you want to go on the race course and not be dictated to by the other boat.”

To make sure that no patches of wind went un-noticed strategist Rob Greenhalgh spent most of the race up the mast watching the puffs come down the course.

First blood goes to Ben Ainslie & Co. Nice, 7 November 2009. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Team Origin

“A light and shifty morning, we knew the wind was going to go left generally so we kept that in mind all the time. The wind went very light and fickle towards the end of the second run allowing the Russians to close the gap marginally but we were always in a strong leading position.”

Skipper Ben Ainslie was satisfied with his team’s ability to spot the right way to go today but warns that there are many potential traps to fall into over the next two weeks of the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta. “With the conditions being really hard it is always going to be about keeping the boat moving fast and staying the right side of the breeze. Our team did a really good job of keeping it moving as fast as possible and the afterguard kept us in phase today. It is a nice way to start, but it is obvious this is going to be a really difficult event to be consistent in.”

Team Director Mike Sanderson summarised TEAMORIGIN’s opening day as: “Great fun. Great fun to get racing today and be the first match of the regatta. We had an exciting start. The boat we used, FRA-93, felt great and we did not feel vulnerable at any stage in the race. The shore team have done an awesome job in equalising these boats speed-wise and mechanically. This is a good start for TEAMORIGIN.”

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